Born in Arroyo Grande on December 7, 1920 in a little Cottage behind the Grieb Farmhouse, she was the 5th or middle child of Fred and Gertrude Grieb’s 9 children.
Growing up, Claire was tall, thin, quiet and loved to read. Once a week her mother would take her to the library to get several books to read during the week. A good book and a pile of crackers made for the perfect bedtime until Grandma would yell out, “For heaven’s sake Claire, TURN OUT THAT LIGHT!” She would read all night if she could.
Claire Loves the Outdoors
She loved camping and fishing and anything out of doors. One of her favorite places to camp was Yosemite. She remembers that her mother would always select camp site 14 as it was close to everything. Her dad would string a tarp from tree to tree to make a little Grieb fortress and a little privacy. The family would sleep under the stars. While there she enjoyed fishing and hiking and just plain being out of doors.
Favorite Memory of Growing up in Arroyo Grande
A fond memory of home is a place across the creek and down a little way towards the old Farmhouse where Grandpa had set up a picnic area. Uncle Art built a barbeque pit and would sometimes put a small dam across the creek to make a little swimming hole for the kids to play in. Family and friends were always invited to come bring their Sunday meal and join in the fun. This was always a good time to catch up with what was going on around town.
Grandma Grieb would make deviled eggs – one of Claire’s favorite things to eat and still is. Olives are also a favorite as she would sneak a can from the kitchen once in a while and go outside and eat the whole can of them all by herself. When Grandma went to get olives for her potato salad, or her famous “More”, and found there weren’t any, she always knew Claire took them. Grandma Grieb just knew everything.
Once in a while Grandpa would want to take a drive out to Huasna. Grandma and Grandpa would ask if anyone wanted to go along. Claire always said yes as she loved going for rides and still does. It worked out great for both Grandpa and Claire as she was the one to open and close the cattle gates. She loved it. Grandma also liked going to the beach once in a while and Claire usually was the one to go with her. She would never turn down an adventure away from home. They both enjoyed the cool air.
Claire’s Role in the Grieb Family
For some reason she was chosen chief bottle washer (dishwasher) for the family of 11. What a chore for one person to wash and dry all those dishes and pots and pans alone. Brother Stanley would take pity on her once in a while and would dry for her. If she didn’t get the counter where she put the clean dishes washed off before starting, Stanley would sometimes jokingly put a clean dish or two that was put on that counter back in the dirty dish pile for her to wash again, telling her it wasn’t clean. What a prankster. She wasn’t too happy about that. One day she thought that if she snuck out and left the dishes that someone else would do them. Nope, they were there waiting for her when she got back. She didn’t try that again.
Education, Marriage and Raising a Family
Claire graduated from Arroyo Grande High School and went on to attend Cuesta College. After attending for a few months, she met her future husband Sterling Sorenson.
March 17, 1941 Claire married Sterling and had 4 children, John, Bill, Sterling Jr., and Theresa. Not working outside of the house other than a few seasonal jobs raising her children was her main priority.
Claire and family moved a lot and everywhere they moved was her favorite place to live as it was always a new adventure. Growing up in Arroyo Grande was the place she loved the most though.
We don’t have a wedding picture of her and Sterling. This is one of the last pictures we have of her and Sterling together taken in late 2000 or early 2001. They were married 60 years. Sterling passed away July 25, 2001.
She and Sterling had a garden no matter where they lived always growing plenty to feed the big family for months to come. Canning and freezing what they couldn’t eat fresh to feed the family throughout the year.
Claire as a Great Grandmother
Claire has 8 grandchildren and 12 great grandchildren with a few step grandchildren as well. She lost her oldest son John in 2012 and Grandson Sterling Keith in 2015.
From January to April 2015 she spent time in Montana with daughter Theresa waiting for her latest little great grandson to come. Evan came 6 weeks early as momma had complications. Momma spent 3 or 4 months in the Missoula, Montana hospital 2 hrs away from home in Helena to save her and baby. The day Evan was born there was a blizzard on MacDonald Pass in Montana, The drive to Missoula from Helena was not passable until the next day. Snow is beautiful but it sure can raise havoc when driving. What a great adventure Theresa and Claire had driving through the snow the next day for nearly 3 hrs to see him. What a little thing he was.
Claire, Always Ready for an Adventure
As a child she never dreamed that she would ever be traveling and in later years was very fortunate to have traveled all over Europe and Scandinavia. In addition, for almost a year, she and Sterling lived in Ballerup, Denmark. She has seen much of the United States including Hawaii and Alaska both of which she loves and has traveled to many times. She has also been to Japan to visit grandson & family that lived and worked there for a while. At 95+ she is still always ready for another adventure.
Bio submitted by Theresa Blasquez